Hope is a beautiful experience, it is not inanimate nor is it static. There are so many life experiences that come our way, however, if we are not mindful we can miss those moments of Hope which enhances and enriches our lives preparing us for that next life experience. For many of us, it is very easy to lose hope and sink beneath despair and often times we take this road.
To have HOPE calls for courage, vulnerability to ask for help or speak our truth, it calls for trust in ourselves and those around us and belief that Angels in the form of Human Beings (strangers) will arise and give us a hand-up to survive those moments when we feel as though our world is crashing. Hope is the ability to believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that tomorrow will be better. It is putting trust even in strangers to bear us when we have no strength to walk our mile.
Hope is the belief that our present lived experiences will change for the better and it enable us to imbibe the knowledge that we are not alone that someone is out there who will connect with our dreams, pains and visions for a better life and that someone or group of people will enable us to stand on their shoulders for a brief moment to rise and walk into our destiny to be champions for others. Hope is also the ability to pay it forward when we receive we share and in sharing we become active participants in moments of hope sending a ray of light across communities and into the lives of others we may never meet face-to-face.
Today, I write about my experience with hopelessness and how hopelessness enables me to experience#HOPE. This may sound like a strange paradox. But one never appreciates light if there is no darkness. I have learned to appreciate #Hope and what it means and how to keep it alive through my experiences with hopelessness (which is not static) and I am understanding daily how to transform hopelessness into HOPE. Women are unable to experience #Peace and #Security if they live in environments of Hopelessness and insecurity. Working with women and girls to build up their levels of hope also builds environments of Peace, #Safety and Security for #Women and #Girls to advance because its an intricate part of working towards #GenderEquality and #Equity to leave no one behind.
"Hope is that inner strength which enables us to walk graciously through fear, and misfortune while believing in a better tomorrow." – Sherna Alexander Benjamin I met Hannah in 2015 while presenting at a domestic violence community outreach initiative. After I completed my presentation she approached me, requesting a private audience. Sensing she may want to speak about a personal matter, I discreetly moved away from the crowd into one of the smaller rooms. Upon entering the room she began to cry, her head bowed and wiping away the tears she said, "Thank you for sharing your story! You do not know it, but you just saved a life." She then proceeded to speak about her present experiences as a result of being a victim of generational abuse. She spoke of having no formal education nor employment, the struggles to care for three young children after leaving her abusive partner, and feeling like a societal burden and failure. A few hours before our outreach event, Hannah was writing a suicide note to leave for her children as she was tired of life, of all the closed doors, of all the shameful stares, of all the harsh judgments by society, of all the lengthy and onerous bureaucratic processes from state agencies and she was tired of being tired. She was losing hope. I connected with some aspects of Hannah’s story. Taking the time to understand her experience. Listening compassionately in a non-judgmental manner enabled me to manifest generosity, opening the doors of empathy and compassion.
Through a collaborative effort, Hannah received support to meet her priority needs and follow up support which facilitated environments for her to become empowered beginning the process of self-sustainability. That significant moment and the actions which followed activated the process of restoring Hannah’s human dignity, her hope in humanity and built a hope-filled foundation for her children. What I learned from Hannah’s story: * If we are not consciously present we can miss those moments when hope enters our lives. * Understanding someone’s experience will enable us to manifest generosity which opens the door for empathy and compassion. * Our actions or inactions can tilt the scales of life positively or negatively. * Tell your story. There are strangers who are waiting to hear it. Your story should not be kept to yourself as you are depriving others of seeing hope in action. * Just before the dawn the darkness intensifies – it is during this time we ought to firmly embrace those collective moments of hope to steer us into the dawn. * Though our experiences may have some similarities they are all unique. Do not devalue your experience by comparing it to someone else’s. Or by rewriting it to make it palatable for society – if you endured it then society can hear it in its most unapologetic and unfiltered form. * You are not alone, unseen watchers from the Cosmos are cheering you on and at the appointed moment in time, an angel arises with rays of hope, giving you a testimony for the present and preparing you for the journey ahead.
Over the last decade, I have had the awesome opportunity to connect with hundreds of people like Hannah and many others who endured various harrowing life experiences. As I continue to connect with communities of people, one common characteristic which emerges is "moments of hopelessness". At some point in our lives, we all experience those moments.
In 2017, I created the HEED-U model to categorize my own behaviour as part of my personal healing process to connect with self. This model categorizes phases of behaviours during states and times of hopelessness: 1. "All is lost" – the individual is catapulted into severe states of despair leading to depression. 2. Quiet Unhealthy Adaptation– the individual quietly adapts to the presenting situation, with an "It is what it is, I am still alive" attitude, unconsciously becoming comfortable with hopelessness seeing self as a constant victim. 3. Careless Disruptor – the individual begins to engage in self-destructive behaviours (360 degree turns or subtly over time), another personality emerges to the surprise of many. 4. Blind Courageous Forger – the individual forges ahead despite the presenting situation(s) manifesting unhealthy hope living with a false sense of all will be well. 5. ReFocused Progressive Embracer – the individual analyzes the situation, acknowledges emotions and feelings, reflects, writes and ask for help creating beauty from the ashes. I soon realized that many persons want to be a ReFocused Progressive Embracer however, in reality, we often go through other phases of behaviour while progressing to the RPE phase and beyond. Everyone’s journey is different. No matter the phase you are in the behaviour is a cry for help and within every cry hope is present because deep within we yearn for a better tomorrow. We often look for hope to be public dramatic displays. However, it is progressive significant moments of remarkable resilience, courage, and trust in ourselves, those around us and in a stranger which manifests at moments in time. In essence, hope is trusting in humanity to understand our experiences. These progressive significant moments are manifested physically through our actions and validated by the actions of others. They come in small doses which we often miss favouring despair. Being consciously present while going through our adverse life experiences places us in a space to embrace, acknowledge and name those moments of hope for future reference. Whatever you may be experiencing, when you move through those life experiences, remember -- be present, embracing every moment, acknowledging every emotion though painful, name every feeling, and write every thought. Seek out what I call "value-based support systems" (VBSS), be kind to yourself and remember, every breath that you take is a breath of hope and every time you exhale you send hope into the Cosmos. As we embrace those progressive significant moments of hope during times of chaos and tragedy we open the door for the restoration of human dignity for ourselves and others.
"We educate women because it is smart. We educate women because it changes the world." - Drew Fuast